Updated: Dec 10, 2019
Most of us over the age of 50 have a set of china and crystal—remember the fun of choosing your pattern and registering it for wedding gifts? Many of us also have sets handed down through generations of mothers and grandmothers. What do we do with these beautiful and sentimental items when the time comes to downsize our homes?
While there are a few options for selling particular patterns, I have to be brutally honest with you: no one will pay what you believe your sets are worth and you will not recoup the money paid years ago when the pieces were new. OUCH. I know that is painful to hear. It’s painful for me when I think about my own china and crystal that I dearly love.
The fact is—whether we like it or not—times have changed and young people don’t host formal dinner parties. Also, their decorating styles don’t incorporate displaying these pieces. This means a) they don’t want your hand-me-downs and b) the market has a lot more china, crystal and silver pieces for sale than buyers.
So what do we do? We have to shift our mindset around these kinds of things. We have to accept that they served their purpose in our lives and our ancestors’ lives, bringing many hours of joy around dining room tables. We’ve loved them; our grandmothers loved them. It can’t be about the money or about getting these things into the hands of someone who will use them like we did. Letting go of china and crystal has to be about finding ways to re-purpose them to keep them useful in some form and keep them out of the landfill. I have a friend who has a beautiful chandelier made of forks and spoons from her grandmother’s silver set. One of my artsy clients made a mosaic table top from broken pieces of her mother’s china and framed a mirror in pieces of colored glass handed down through her family.
Another idea: use them! Why save them for special occasions? Get them out of their boxes and eat on those dishes every single meal! No need to worry about chipping a plate or breaking a glass, since the set as a whole already has low monetary value. Consider donating them to a soup kitchen or an agency that resettles refugees or battered women. Let people who desperately need dishes and flatware enjoy their beauty each and every day.
If you want to pursue selling be prepared to do so at a low price. You might want to start with an appraisal to get an idea of what the market will pay.
I’ve collected information on options for selling china, silver and crystal—both locally and nationally. Contact me at Joanie@organizewithjoanie.com to request this listing. BONUS: you’ll also get access to my weekly emails, so you’ll never miss a home organizing idea or inspiration!